I am almost done! I made it through my first school year as a licensed teacher!
The pandemic made it a weird year, and I definitely never thought I would be teaching virtually for most of the year. Regardless, I made a lot of memories, established good relationships with my students, and learned many things that I now want to share with you! While you may not be able to relate to all of them, hopefully you can learn something from this list, no matter your position in life!
- Relationships are everything!- This is my most important takeaway from this year! I had to build relationships with students to be able to teach them (and also to discipline). I also had to have relationships with my colleagues to be able to work together for the good of the students.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help- I’m such an independent person that I hate asking for help. But I had to remind myself I don’t have all the answers. My coworkers have knowledge that I don’t, so sometimes it’s okay to get help.
- Be real with your students- I don’t have to put on an act for my students. I don’t fake it. I’ll call them out on dumb things they do and then praise them when they work hard.
- Don’t be afraid not to know- Truthfully, it is my favorite thing when my students ask me a question I don’t know the answer to. I love then being able to tell them, “I don’t know but I’ll gladly research that for you.” I think it really surprised my students the first time or two that I did that. Teachers are supposed to have all the answers, but I love being able to research things on their behalf.
- Teaching skills is more important than teaching content- I love the events of history, and I love teaching it to my students. But at the end of the day, it is more important that they can apply the skills I teach them rather than memorization. In my class, I teach critical thinking, text analysis, cause and effect, and answers based on evidence. Those are much more important at the end of the day than the Mali Empire.
- Have rules in place from the onset- One of the most common rules in my classroom is “don’t be dumb.” This covers nearly every behavior and that’s usually all I have to say when they start acting up.
- When disciplining, burn bright and quick- I had to break up a potential fight last week. It got to a point where I pulled out my teacher voice and the main things that I said were “Enough. We’re done.” It wasn’t a drawn-out thing because it didn’t need to be. Take care of the issue and don’t let it take up too much time.
- Similarly, do not get involved in a power struggle- Back to this fight that almost happened last week. One of my students who was angry and wanting to fight walked out of my room. They then came back and tried to say they had permission to beat the other student up. I sat at my desk and told them no. I was firm and ready to escalate if needed. Fortunately I didn’t need to, but I was ready to go. If things escalated, I could’ve intervened, but I didn’t have to.
- Each day is new- Don’t hold mistakes over your students’ heads. Treat each day like it’s new. The mistakes of the past don’t matter. Everyone has bad days.
- Lastly, be fair to everyone- Listen, I definitely have students I prefer over others. But that doesn’t mean that I’m unfair or biased to any student. I reward effort no matter where it comes from, and I’ll provide the same opportunities to everyone.
I’m excited to see what my kids go on and do in the future and it’s so exciting that I’m done with my first year of teaching. Here’s to many more to come!